The Jackson City Council is gearing up for a legal battle related to the mayor’s order to suspend open carry.
At its meeting on April 28, the council hired attorney DeShun T. Martin to represent the council in any litigation related to the mayor’s open carry ban, which was implemented on April 24.
The council also passed a resolution in opposition to Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba's ban, saying it "had not taken any action or adopted any ordinance whatsoever purporting to regulate the possession or carry of firearms during the COVID-19 pandemic."
Ward One Councilman Ashby Foote, who voted in favor of the resolution, said open carry isn't the reason for the city's crime rate and that it was "disingenuous" for the mayor to suggest it is. "Open carry isn't part of the problem, it is part of the solution."
Martin will be paid $185 an hour, up to $10,000, and will be paid with funds from the mayor’s office budget, Ward Two Councilman Melvin Priester said.
The council approved the measure upon advice from the city legal department.
Lumumba said he would be represented by a separate independent counsel, according to council members.
Currently, the city is being sued in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Mississippi.
The Mississippi Justice Institute recently filed suit against the city hoping to block the mayor’s open carry ban.
Lumumba issued the order hoping to stem violent crime in the city and pointed to recent gun incidents as a reason behind the measure.
The suspension is in contradiction to state law, which allows open carry of firearms in public.
Ward Four Councilman De’Keither Stamps supports the mayor’s passion, but said the council needed to bring on an attorney to help mitigate any legal fallout from the mayor’s action.
Ward Six Councilman Aaron Banks agreed. “This doesn’t mean the council doesn’t disdain the violence going on in the city. This is a legal issue for the city and we must protect the city at all costs.”